I’ve been following the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association blog, and particularly Paul Eldrenkamp. I don’t live in the Northeast, and a lot of what is discussed sails over my head, but I like the depth of intelligent conversation going on there. It’s fresh and new for such a vapid chap as myself. And who couldn’t be struck with thought by statements such as, “This, I believe, is an honest assessment of what a building is—that is to say, about as inefficient and unnatural an act as our species does on any similar scale.”
Too true Mr. Eldrenkamp, or can I call you Paul? Well, Paul continues to talk about how “green building” is a red herring when it comes to making the sort of change we need to be sustainable — to continue living on the planet in such a way as our children and their children will also be able to live on the planet with great and undue hardship and suffering. Again, I totally agree. But at the same time I live in Salt Lake City. If I am to stop battling the outside world or biosphere I live in and relent a great deal to a life that is less of an affront to the natural world, I will freeze my ass off in the winter and roast in the summer. Or I will move.
Here in lies the stinky diaper. (Sorry, my kid just soiled his armor.) We have spread out all over the earth, including into areas that can’t practically support us in a sustainable manner (i.e. Phoenix, New Orleans, New York and all the places that dawdle further North in latitude and that lie in deserts and, etc.). This move has been made widely possible by modern buildings and the oil that backs them up. Now we realize that our buildings are indeed an affront to nature and have spread like a virus all over the planet. Hmmmm.
So how do we rethink our buildings in such a fundamental way as to be able to keep building them? I am guessing most of us just won’t except the local equivalent of an igloo. Or will we? Fremont peoples dug underground dirt homes or Kiva like structures here in Utah a long time before it was Utah. Some of these were pretty complex and pretty comfortable by today’s Granola standards. Maybe it isn’t too much of a stretch to think about building structures from super adobes or sandbags and stone here in Utah. Would we consider the communal orientation of these structures that so many ancients relied on? Or will we just keep building “green” like city slicker teenagers being taken on their first snipe hunt by their rural wise cousins?